Retirement & Financial Planning Report

After you submit your retirement application, your personnel office will finish the processing and forward the package to your payroll office, which will authorize your final salary payment and a lump sum payment for any unused annual leave. It will also certify and close out your individual retirement record. Finally, it will forward your retirement package to OPM’s Retirement Operations Center in Boyers, Pennsylvania, on a “Register of Separation and Transfers.” When that happens, some payroll offices will let you know the register number, the transmittal and mailing dates, and their office number. If yours doesn’t, you can always call and ask for that information.

It’s good information to have on hand. For one reason, it will let you know if your agency has met the non-binding (unfortunately) deadline for getting your retirement package to OPM. For another, whether the deadline is met or not, once the package is in OPM’s hands, you can follow up if it up if you don’t hear from them.

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If everything goes right, shortly after OPM gets your retirement record, it will send you an acknowledgement and give you a retirement claim number. OPM’s goal is to get you into interim pay status within five work days after receiving the record. Once OPM has authorized the Department of Treasury to make payment, your first payment should be made within five days to three weeks. The timing usually depends on whether your records were sent to OPM electronically or on paper, with the latter way slowing down the process.

Along with your payment will come a notice letting you know its amount and any federal taxes withheld. Also withheld will be any amount due for health benefit or life insurance premiums.

OPMs final adjudication of your claim – which ideally should happens within 45 days of the date on which it received the records from your payroll office – will result in your being put in a full annuity pay status, with your first payment including any payment you are due because you were receiving interim pay. From that point, annuity payments will accrue through the end of the month and be payable on the first business day of the following month.

Also thereafter, you will receive an official notice from OPM any time the amount of your annuity changes, for example, when a cost-of-living adjustment is made, or when the premiums for health or life insurance coverage go up or down. You will also hear from OPM if a new benefit for which you are eligible becomes available, such as was the case with long-term care, and the dental and vision insurance program.